© Reuters. General view of Kyiv after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the Ukraine crisis right now:
* A defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Kyiv remained under Ukrainian control on Saturday as Russian forces renewed their assault, pounding the capital and other cities with artillery and cruise missiles.
* In a sea of blue and yellow flags and banners, protesters around the world showed their support for the people of Ukraine and called on governments to do more to help Kyiv, punish Russia and avoid a broader conflict.
* Germany changed its position about imposing restrictions on Russia’s access to the SWIFT global interbank payment system, joining other Western powers in support of harsher sanctions aimed at halting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
* The EU is in talks over a third package of sanctions on Russia, an EU diplomat told Reuters.
* Ukraine denied suggestions that it was refusing to negotiate a ceasefire with Russia but said it was also not ready to accept ultimatums or unacceptable conditions.
* Turkey has not made a decision to close the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits to Russian ships, a Turkish official told Reuters.
* Russian Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said Chechen fighters had been deployed to Ukraine.
* The mayor of Kyiv extended a curfew in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday.
* Britain’s defence ministry said the Russian advance into Ukraine had temporarily slowed, probably because of logistical problems and strong resistance.
* Russian troops captured the southeastern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Russia’s defence ministry said. But British armed forces minister James Heappey said Britain did not believe Russian forces had captured Melitopol.
* Refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to pour across its western borders on Saturday, with around 100,000 reaching Poland in two days.
* Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) denied a report earlier on Saturday that Russian helicopters had landed in the Lviv region, a development that would have signalled a widening of the theatre of Moscow’s invasion.
* Russia will respond to the seizure of money of Russian citizens and companies abroad by seizing funds of foreigners and foreign companies in Russia, RIA news agency quoted Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the security, as saying.
* The Ukrainian border guards service said on Saturday Russia had closed off the northwestern part of the Black Sea to navigation.
* Russian forces are becoming increasingly frustrated by what the United States believes is “viable” and very determined Ukrainian resistance, a U.S. defence official said.
* Pope Francis called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and expressed his “most profound pain” for the country’s suffering.
* Twitter (NYSE:) is being restricted for some users in Russia, the social media company said in a tweat on Saturday.
* The official website of the Kremlin, kremlin.ru, was down on Saturday, following reports of denial of service (DDoS) attacks on various other Russian government and state media websites.
* The Ukrainian government has instructed power stations to switch to to preserve strategic coal reserves, the head of the country’s biggest private power producer said.
* At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the head of the Ukrainian Health Ministry was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
* France has decided to send defensive military equipment to Ukraine to support the country against Russia’s invasion, a French army spokesman said, adding the issue of sending offensive arms was still under consideration.
* Russian energy giant Gazprom (MCX:) said it was supplying gas via Ukraine in line with demand from European consumers despite the military conflict.
* French sea police seized a ship on Saturday that authorities suspect belongs to a Russian company targeted by European Union sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the Ukrainian military to overthrow the country’s leadership and negotiate peace.
* Russia vetoed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Friday that would have deplored Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while China abstained from the vote.
* China is in a diplomatic scramble to limit blowback while standing by a partner with which it has grown increasingly close in opposition to the West.
* President Joe Biden instructed the U.S. State Department to release up to an additional $350 million worth of weapons from U.S. stocks to Ukraine on Friday as it struggles to repulse a Russian invasion.
– “We will fight as long as it takes to liberate the country,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video message posted on his social media.
– “We are urgently working on how to limit the collateral damage of decoupling from SWIFT in such a way that it affects the right people. What we need is a targeted and functional restriction of SWIFT,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement.
– “I came to Berlin to shake the conscience of Germany so that they would finally decide on truly harsh sanctions that will influence the Kremlin’s decisions,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters ahead of a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.
– “In October 2020 we had the privilege to meet President Zelenskiy and the First Lady to learn of their hope and optimism for Ukraine’s future,” Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate said on Twitter. “Today we stand with the President and all of Ukraine’s people as they bravely fight for that future.”